London Stories and Tips

Back in Blighty

Hilton London Islington room Photo, London, England

We arrived in London at 6 p.m. local time at St. Pancras International (via Eurostar from Brussels) and made our way through the station. I wanted to pick up our train tickets that I'd booked for our return to Manchester on Sunday so we had to find the ticket machines in the station. St. Pancras is actually quite large and connects to King's Cross as well.

We got confused and a bit turned around but eventually found where we needed to be. I even successfully navigated the machine but we still had to go through a queue anyway when we wanted to top up our Oyster transport cards. Oh well. Then we got mixed up trying to find the right exit to get to Euston Road for the busses. We walked a block or so to a stop by the British Library. According to my bus map, I needed the 30. One left just as we got there and we probably waited about 10 minutes for another but we were tired and it felt like longer. We discovered later that there were several other numbers that would have got us to the same stop before they veered off in another direction.

We managed to get off at the right stop and thanks to Google Street View, i knew pretty much where to go from there. I booked a room at the Hilton London Islington through Londontown.com because i'd got an astonishing deal. I don't know if it's because the Hilton is beside a business center and is not that busy on the weekends or if i just got lucky but we got a really nice room with queen size bed, full buffet breakfast for a total of 65 pounds a night for the Friday and Saturday nights!!! I was really knackered by the time we got to the hotel though. Frustrated and sore footed and tired. But man, you can tell when you're in a good hotel! The check in service was great!

The room was large, the bathroom was too and it had a tub and shower. We got our stuff unpacked a bit and i took off my jeans and crawled into bed for a rest. In fact, i was so comfortable and felt so relaxed that i decided right then and there i wasn't getting up again. I told Graham if he wanted to eat, we were ordering room service because my feet wouldn't carry me any further, even just out to the road (Upper Street) to find a pub! Yes, room service is a bit pricey but pretty much the same as we'd been paying in Euros all week anyway and the pound is nearly par with the euro these days.

So, it was a burger for him and a club sandwich for me. I couldn't get through to Room Service using the designated button on the phone so i called reception who took my order and then RS called right back to confirm. Again, top service! I made a few calls and texts to friends to sort out arrangements for tomorrow and i think i'm getting a cold, too. Probably wore myself out!

The next day, it was pretty clear I definitely have a cold. Errrgh. It's not too bad yet, though so let's hope it doesn't worsen. At least I won't have to drag myself around too much while feeling like crap. I don't actually feel too bad, just have a stuffy nose so far and a bit of a cough which probably will get worse. I have drugs and i have a puffer. I am armed and ready to go!

Up for the buffet breakfast which is always excellent at the Hilton hotels. We topped up our phones and found a bank machine before we headed to the British Library. I had already bought us tickets for the Henry VIII exhibit there which was set up by Dr. David Starkey, an expert on the Tudors. It's timed entry and i'd got the tickets for 10 a.m.. The exhibit was really marvellous! All those documents, (love) letters and papers with Henry's handwriting! Interactive displays and hologram Henrys. It was top notch! The audio accompaniment was narrated by Starkey himself. I didn't buy the beautiful guide that went with the exhibit because it was big and heavy but i may order it online and have it sent either to Graham and he could bring it over. I do want it though.

We didn't think to see if there was anything else in the library we could see (there is! there's a free exhibit of all their treasures!) After a cuppa in their cafe, we walked down Euston Road to the bus station at Euston train station and figured out where to get a bus to Baker Street.

Weather is improving. Sunny but not hot but it's warm and there's a breeze. This afternoon we are meeting some friends and some friends of theirs for a picnic in Regent's Park! I haven't been to a picnic in years! We walked down Baker Street to find a Tesco where we could get some sandwiches and drinks. We had a coffee in a Costa and then walked over to the tube station where we met up with Glenda and Baz and made our way into the lovely green Regent's Park.

I'd not been in there before and I think it's much larger than Hyde Park. We didn't know exactly where everyone would be so we walked a little way along a duck pond/stream where there were lots of majestic herons along the shores. Called the picnic organizer and changed direction. A little further on and there they were under a tree. The rest of the afternoon was spent talking, eating and drinking in the sun. Later, once it was getting chilly, we decamped to a pub just outside the park and had a bite to eat.

Now here's where it all goes astray again. See, earlier i had written something down with the date and it struck me. The date tomorrow is the 10th. Except the train tickets i'd got for our return journey to Manchester... *checks* yep, they say the 11th. Uh oh! We need tickets for the 10th. I had booked them online awhile back and obviously did it for the wrong date. And they were really cheap tickets too! On the way back to the hotel from the pub, we stopped into Euston station to see what we could do about them. Didn't think it likely we could change them and that was the correct assumption. Only could have if there had been any cheap seats available which there weren't. The cheapest available were 42 pounds each. *gulp* No choice really. But then... the nice man, he say they are first class unsold tickets! Sold now! The cheapest regular class tickets were 60+ pounds each! That's sorted. A nice comfy journey back in first class for tomorrow. It's really the only unexpected expense we had this trip so that's really not so bad.

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